By: Ingy ElSafy & Moslem Ali
Cairo – Mubasher: Fawry has been in the Egyptian market for over a decade, and recently listed on the Egyptian Exchange (EGX). During this time, the leading e-payment network proved itself as an “enabler”, said Managing Director Mohamed Okasha in an interview with Mubasher during RiseUp Summit 2019.
Do you consider any partnerships with cashless firms?
People think Fawry operates in cash only, yet a lot of our business is non-cash; we have a platform that enables consumers to choose their preferred method of payment.
Online websites, like EgyptAir, Jumia, or Orange, are powered by Fawry. Payment can be by card, mobile wallet, QR code, or cash; however, cash is an ongoing system across the world that will not vanish.
We are neither completely digital nor completely cash; Fawry represents the transition. However, we are not pro transitioning the system into digital as it will be a dream that will not come true. Cash will move to digital at a different basis.
Meanwhile, Fawry already implemented cashless societies in universities and also in sports clubs like Al Jazira club where all payments can be done on mobile and through wearables.
Through the wide-range network, Fawry can be found in banks across Egypt, ATMs, mobile wallets, and internet banking.
Do you need to promote more for the idea of not being cash-based services only?
Absolutely, but our model since establishment has been doing a lot of work on the infrastructure, getting it up and running, pushing B2B and corporates to adopt the idea, and then getting the momentum and going viral.
Over the past decade, Fawry did not advertise for itself, it happened slowly but surely. Eventually, we have become way ahead of others in the market.
But over the past five years, there has been a boost in knowing Fawry. What’s the reason behind that?
We invest into creating value on ground; the merchant within Fawry’s system can pay to FMCGs online by placing the order from the point of sale (POS). Such process takes time to come to light, but once the system is operating, it cannot replicate easily.
The current effort we are exerting in is making showcases or pilots. We do not invent, as everything that is happening in the payment industry has already happened somewhere else. The important part is executing it well.
How do you see marketing for a product like yours?
It has different approaches; some people tend to market for the product first then execute, unlike us; we tend to execute first then it is a fact on the ground. You can see a lot of communities using our platform, like in Citystars where everything that is being paid digitally is through Fawry.
Do you consider using blockchain in your system?
Cryptocurrency and digital money cannot make a difference in Egypt in the current period, because it is just a method of payment among several other existing methods. More mobile services and QR codes, which we are focusing on, are what will make a difference in the Egyptian market.
As for blockchain, it has a lot of implementations of which Fawry will try internally, inside Fawry, but I do not want to announce Fawry’s plan in the current time.
But in general, government entities in Dubai did automation of contracts using blockchain. Meanwhile, Egypt is trying to create IDs on blockchain.
Do you think the community in Egypt is ready for such technologies?
Some technologies will make a huge difference if adopted in the Egyptian market, like smart contracts for shipping as well as receipt of containers, and digital IDs of citizens.
I believe that the government is already working on applying these systems.
However, there are more priorities for Egypt in the current period than adopting the use of cryptocurrency.
How do you see Fawry’s role in financial inclusion?
Fawry is already teaming up with the government and the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) to boost financial inclusion, like working on the licenses issued by the bank and also the QR code payment; local scheme like Meeza, which will make a huge difference in the Egyptian market as it will exit the umbrella of Mastercard and Visa, and will also have control over pricing; Mobile Wallets where 20 banks and operators use Fawry platform as a white label; we do wallets cash-in and cash-out, aggregation of the service, and KYC Wallets at Fawry Plus.
What about expanding regionally?
We explore opportunities in neighboring countries, but we focus on where Egyptian expats are found, like in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.
What is your current presence regionally?
In the UAE, for example, one of the largest five banks there decided to use Fawry platform, which boosted our business. The UAE bank was looking for solutions from India, China, and the Middle East, but choosing us proved our good record in Egypt.
Do you consider implementing a system like Vodafone Cash?
Fawry is the enabler and the one that does infrastructure for 25 wallets which Vodafone Cash is similar to; We serve all of these wallets as we offer them all cash-in and cash-out transactions, the aggregated service, and the KYC service, as well as using Fawry machine to pay at merchants.
Will you consider competing in e-wallets in the future?
The market is flooded and I do not think all of them will continue operating as it is not profitable for some of them.
Similar to what happened ten years ago when Fawry offered payment terminals to pay bills instead of going to Vodafone and Telecom Egypt branches, currently, we are building an electronic e-commerce infrastructure, so instead of dealing with each mobile wallet and bank, Fawry Pay will be available.
In addition, Tazkarti is using Fawry Pay in booking football match tickets.
Do you consider listing on regional or international markets?
We just listed on EGX, so maybe in two years we can consider it.
It is worth noting that the main motives behind the decision to list on EGX were seeking a fair evaluation, more liquidity, and better transparency.
How can startups benefit from Fawry? Would you consider non-Egyptian startups as well?
Startups already deal with us. As a platform of 125,000 merchants, FMCGs, banks, and the government, Fawry is facilitating the service through all schemes like Visa, Mastercard, and Meeza.
Any startup can come to Fawry to hook to the platform to get everything available on it in a fast way from one place.
We currently focus on Egyptian startups as the opportunity in the market is huge; so, Egyptians who intend to go abroad should think first in this 100-million-base with a financial service market penetration of less than 10%.